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Dealing with insurance disputes after a motor vehicle accident

Insurance is a crucial resource for those who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, and for those who end up causing an accident. The more serious the injuries, the more important it is that a policyholder receive coverage due to him or her under the policy, or that the insurance company provide liability coverage. In motor vehicle accident cases, of course, it is not uncommon for insurance issues to arise, and working with an experienced attorney is critical to protecting a policyholder’s rights and interests.

Even NASCAR drivers are not immune from insurance disputes, as a recent case involving Tony Stewart demonstrates. Stewart is reportedly appealing a federal ruling that his insurance company is not obligated to provide indemnity or defense for him in a suit filed by the surviving family of a man died in 2014 after being struck by Stewart’s car during a race. 

The judge in the case reportedly ruled at the end of July that Stewart’s policy limited the insurer’s obligation to provide liability coverage to certain races. Stewart had accused the insurance company of breach of contract, as well as bad faith. It remains to be seen what will become of the case.

Insurance bad faith refers to the duty insurance companies have to deal fairly with their insured in good faith. The duty of good faith and fair dealing imposes a sort of quasi-fiduciary duty on insurers, though insurance companies are not obligated to put the insured’s interests above their own. What is required is that insurance companies give equal consideration in all maters to the interests of the insured.

Most people, when they come up against a dishonest insurer, will have a sense of what they are dealing with, but insurance companies are typically careful to justify their actions and it may be difficult to identify exactly how they are doing wrong.  Those who feel their insurance company, or that of another driver, is not doing right by them should get in contact with an experienced attorney to receive guidance and advocacy. In our next post, we’ll continue this discussion, looking at what it takes to establish a valid case for insurance bad faith.

Source: Mutual of Enumclaw v. Dan Paulson Construction, 161 Wash.2d 903 (2014). 

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